Playing Rosencrantz

I’m Brooke Heintz, better known as (deep breath now) Rosencrantz, Francisco, Reynaldo, the Ambassador, Captain, and a pallbearer.  That’s right, it’s a regular revolving door of characters for me during any one of our runs.  Along with this, I’m our production’s Prop Mistress.   This means it was my duty to work with our director compiling a list of necessary props, determining what look we were going for, and then actually going out and finding them all.   Sharing production duties is one of the most unique things about working with Pigeon Creek, in my opinion, because we eliminate the line between actors and crew, and it allows the show to feel fully ours.  We take ownership of every aspect, or trust the people from our own ensemble to do so.

Speaking of unique opportunities for teamwork, I wanted to focus on the experience of playing half of the Rosencrantz & Guildenstern team.   I haven’t played a lot of male characters, and we also wanted to develop synchronization between R&G’s movements, so I was focused quite a bit on physicality when preparing my roles.  Sarah, who plays Guildenstern, worked very closely with me on developing where we wanted the characters’ center of gravity, how we wanted them to walk, to sit, to stand, to react physically in fear or indignation.   Near the beginning of rehearsals, we would use a mirroring exercise, where we simply stood face to face, and followed each other’s movements, trying to keep it as organic as possible, and get our bodies physically in tune.  We did a lot of work in front of mirrors as well, trying to get our stances to match while keeping it natural.

Once we were confident in the things that matched between the two, and felt that they translated visually as a set, we focused on what differentiated the characters.  Guildenstern is more of the alpha dog of the two, and we decided that they vary strongly in that Guildenstern tries to keep his reactions in the “head” most of the time, whereas Rosencrantz (not very “heady” whatsoever) reacts to most things directly from the heart.  It allowed for us to create tiny physical mannerisms that were opposing, but still complemented those that were synchronized: Rosencrantz was more likely to react to things openly, shoulders back, heart bared, whereas Guildenstern tends to shrink inwards.  When these reactions were combined, it still creates a visual illusion of them being two parts of a whole.

Playing someone’s “other half” so to speak has been a brand new experience for me, and required more specific physical work with another person than I’ve gotten to do before.   Hopefully it pays off in comedy for our audiences.   You still have a chance to come and see for yourselves, at Christ Community Church in Spring Lake, May 13-16th!